On this page, I post selections from the comments sections of various posts that tell stories about othorexia. (If you enjoy hatemail comments, you can find them here.)
At a future date, I will post replies to certain of these. Currently, I often reply in the comments section, or, sometimes, directly to the poster.
Renee writes: I have not read your book but I’m very interested in this topic. One of the problems, as I see it, is that people recovering from anorexia/bulimia often have digestive problems. So when they seek out advice on how to heal their guts, and their doctors throw up their hands, the alternative health community is quick to respond by instructing them to cut out entire food groups and eat in a hyper-restrictive, hyper-vigilant way – which just fuels the fears and obsessions around food.
At least that’s what happened to me. I spent years and thousands of dollars seeking help formy digestive problems after anorexia, and I got nowhere. I just got more freaked out about food, more broke, more underweight and more sick.
So my point is that people with anorexia/bulimia are more succeptible to orthorexia and that health practicioners should be cautious, when dealing with eating-disordered clients, to focus more on whether they are eating enough (which no one did with me, even though I was patently underweight), rather than convince them that they are hurting themselves by eating a normal North American diet, as I was let to believe.
TH writes: I have been trying to find a way to contact you since finding your article online describing orthorexia. My brother is in serious danger of losing his life due this disorder; values he holds in the extreme, apparently to the death in his case. He has been hospitalized for almost two months and unfortunately there is no sensitivity to his condition and the treatment to date seems almost as bad or worse than his condition. We are in Los Angeles. I would greatly appreciate a chance to speak with you and am seeking the benefit of your experience as I try to help him
Emily writes, “Wow. When I first heard of orthorexia last year, I realized that I had gone through it myself. I’m now in a place where I feel able to eat just about anything, though I choose healthy, home-cooked foods most of the time because I like them. I do not feel deprived. As a food therapist and health counselor, I still struggle to keep my diet suggestions simple: add in whole, organic, fresh foods (you’ll find that they quickly and effortlessly start to replace some of the “bad” food in your diet without having to use willpower), and focus on the other areas of your life (career, relationships, spirituality) where you are starving and need non-food sustenance.
Food is a powerful substance–as powerful as any drug or spiritual experience. Orthorexics suffer, I believe, from the same thing as fast-food addicts, overeaters, and anyone who puts their focus on the tangible: lack of purpose. We all need purpose in our lives: and purpose is found in our careers, relationships, and spiritual disciplines. We need exercise that isn’t only for the sake of effort or weight loss, but also for clearing our heads, enjoying our bodies and what they can do, and celebrating nature. When we are unhappy or focused too much on any one of these areas, we become imbalanced, and what we eat is almost always affected.”
GRP writes: “I have recently come out of a long and loving relationship with a wonderful young woman who suffers from this exact condition combined with OCD and an exercise compulsion. The amount of unrelenting, crippling stress and anxiety it placed on her, and to a degree myself as I tried to support and understand her, over the 4 1/2 years we were together is impossible for me to encapsulate in a few sentences. It is incredibly distressing to see someone go through this as they strive to do the best for themselves in such a self destructive way. Up until now every health professional has misunderstood her. I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed that some people have dismissed the notion of Orthorexia, (very rudely in some cases here). I can assure them it is real and the cause of misery. Dr Bratman should be supported in his endeavours to help sufferers and I applaud his efforts.”
D1Xcrunner writes: “I know this ‘healthy eating disorder’ is going to get a bad rap in a largely-overweight community, but as a national-caliber athlete, I can testify to how this is a disorder in itself. It’s not that the people are eating healthy, but that they are so mentally worried about eating “healthily” that they physically display symptoms of malnutrition. Maybe it’s because a “eat healthy or don’t eat at all” mentality gets developed.